Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Our Nolan

Where do I even start? Should I start at the part where I stood in the guest bathroom at 4am in the morning staring at the 2 pink lines in amazement? Or the part where I told Chris the big news? Should I start where the pregnancy no longer was innocent and naive and the worry, prayers & fight started?

I don’t know. I shouldn't even be writing a post like this. A post of his life, I should be writing a post with updates from his well baby visits and new vacations we’re taking him on. But instead, I am here trying to keep my son’s life alive by words and pictures. So without further ado…

Nolan’s life.

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It was Dec 30th or 31st, I am not too sure exactly what day it was. But I woke up with some cramping and decided to take a test. I remember the 2nd line being faint but there was a line. Holy Cow! We’re pregnant!


I told Chris by running up to Target and buying the movie Knocked Up. I wrapped it up in Xmas paper and gave it to Chris. I woke him up and said I found a present I forgot to give him. He responded with something.. “Oooo I wonder what the heck this is” Since you could tell it was a DVD wrapped up.

I’ll never forget his face when he read “Due Date 9/9/09”

That was the beginning, it was the most exciting happy moment in our life. Both laying there in bed in amazement that we were going to be parents.


The next 2 months was filled with uneventful Dr’s appointments, telling parents and co-workers and dreaming about baby stuff. I ate, talked and breathed everything baby. I was just so darn excited. No lie.

We bought a new car, we considered it my soccer mom car! I knew I would need a bigger car and what better time to get one.

n290400051_331082_3917 In April, we found out out that our Ruby Baby was a little boy. Chris was SO excited! The Dr was a little concerned with his growth but was thinking he was curled up and wanted me back in 2 weeks for another scan. I was worried but had faith everything would be ok. We went shopping afterwards at Babies R Us and Carters. This is also nautical obsession started, I think I bought 3-4 outfits with sailboats and anchors.

In April, we went to Washington D.C. for a mini honeymoon. We took pictures ALL over the city with my popped out belly. It was in the hotel room in DC that I first felt our baby kick on the outside. Simply amazing.

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We decided on a nursery theme, even though it was kind of a given on what we would do. It was perfect and I couldn’t wait to get started.


Then May 6th happened. My follow up ultrasound showed our baby’s growth was now down to the 5th percentile and we needed to be referred to an MFM right away.

That night, my Mom flew down to be with us at the MFM appointment and at the time I thought it was overkill.

Then this happened, and I knew she was here for a reason. I broke apart, we broke apart. The next few days were full of tears, hope & lots of ice cream. I had no clue what to think honestly.

We had another scare.

The next few weeks were full of unanswered questions. The amniocentesis came back normal, but his size was not growing. By now, he was off the growth charts and Dr’s (MFM) was giving me NO hope. They also thought there was a heart defect and that we needed to go to Tampa to get an echo. This whole time MFM was telling me that I needed to grieve, go home and absorb everything that has happened. She also presented an option to terminate. NO WAY! I was giving our baby every fighting chance.

I went to Ohio when I was 23.5 weeks. I went home to see my family one more time, the MFM suggested it was a good idea to ‘be with my family’ so I did. We spent the weekend shopping for his nursery. We also noticed I was getting bigger so we had HUGE hope that he was going through a late growth spurt.3540595660_ee97acefa1 I came back, had tons of appointments, attending many more trips to L&D triage for some scares, many more ultrasounds for dopplers and fluid checks. I was placed on bed rest and was given a goal to get to 32 weeks. Nolan was measuring 3.5 weeks behind, had next to no fluid. I was drinking protein shakes and water like crazy trying to help his fluid and growth.

I did everything in my power. Everything. I fought and fought and fought.

This was my last blog post, just about an hour before I took my blood pressure and everything went down hill.

26 weeks

2 hours later, I was admitted for high blood pressure. I had a bad headache all day and went to Publix to check my BP. It was 189/118, I was told to come to L&D right away. I was told they weren’t sure what was going on with me but they wanted to admit me since my 24 urine from the other day was borderline preeclampsia.


Then the MFM came in, reminded me that if they deliver our baby would not survive. He was too small and pretty much crushed any hope I had.

8 hours later, my BP stopped responding to meds and my headache was back and my labs came back that I had HELLP.  In order to save my life, I had to deliver our baby. I cried, I bawled, and bargained with my OB to let me wait a few more days. I knew he wasn’t ready, he was just too small. She promised me that if I did not deliver in the next few hours, I would fall deathly ill, end up in ICU and possibly lose my life.

So there I was, my world turning upside down for real this time. My best friend, Val at my bed side helping the nurses prep me for the OR while Chris was out making phone calls. All I can remember was crying, I felt helpless.


Nolan Michael Dowaliby was born somewhere around 9am that morning in an emergency c-section. He came out and had a quick cry and had APGARS better than full term baby. The NICU team was able to stabilize much to the surprise of what MFM told me.  325

I’ll let you read the rest of his short 3 days if life in the actual blog posts that I wrote. The memories are faded and those posts make it so much more real than I could ever summarize.


Introducing Nolan Michael


Picture Update

NICU Day 1

Video & Update

NICU Day 2


I remembering having so much hope for Nolan. He got his name because it means little fighter and Chris gave in to my favorite name when i was bawling my eyes out to the OR because knew he was going to have to fight.

We had A LOT of visitors. Both Grandmas, Chris’ Dad, Aunt Trisha, Heather, Darleen, Valorie, and Jen all got to meet Nolan over the course of his life. Every single one that had the chance to meet our little miracle was just amazed at how truly small he was. Pictures just don’t do justice.

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We made many trips from my room with me in a wheelchair to the NICU. Chris and I spent a lot of time hanging out with Nolan watching him kick and move. He held our hand over him gently and also let him kick our hands away with his HUGE feet.

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We had our first family picture together, well kind of.

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This was my favorite day because the nurse really made me feel like a Mom. She let me take his temperature, help change his linens and even change my sons diaper.

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Last blog post when Nolan was alive, written just 3 hours before he left us.

 We went up to have a last visit before we went to bed. It was late, maybe 11pm and I remember blowing him a kiss good night and saying good night munchkin.

We went downstairs to my room, I fell asleep pumping and that’s when the nurse came in and told us to get to the NICU now.

The next time I saw Nolan, he had 10-12 people surrounding him, his giraffe incubator was fully open and he was coding. They had him off the vent and bagging him, doing CPR on his tiny chest. I lost it. They encouraged me to hold him while they did this, actually they insisted he be in my hands. I reached in the incubator picking him up and praying out loud.

We then had to make the difficult decision to stop the code, they had been fighting it for awhile and there was not much hope for survival and just 3 short mins later, Nolan was gone.

That’s when Valorie ran in, she opened her arms and held both Chris and I.

We lost our son, our life was immediately something we never imagined. I held my baby for the first time in my arms with no heartbeat.

For the next few hours, we held Nolan in that stupid family room that no one ever wants to be in. Only bad things happen in that room. My nurse even had to come up to give me my meds because I wasn’t ready to leave Nolan yet.

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That morning, I refused to leave the hospital or have any visitors until Chris and I laid in my hospital bed and read every single post on Nolan’s blog from day 1. Then I started to write his last post. I felt I had to do it before I left the hospital, it was something I just had to do.

I had to formally say goodbye to my son the same way I started telling his story, through a blog.

Goodbye Nolan Michael

We left the hospital less than an hour later, I left my innocent world behind me when I was wheeled out the hospital doors that day. Who I used to be left, and a fight for a new normal started.

The following weeks were followed with a million cards, planning our sons service and remembering what a courageous fight he had. I was so overwhelmed with how many people came to his service. Everyone even wore red and navy in honor of his favorite colors. Valorie made the most beautiful video of our Nolan’s life and there was not a dry eye in the church when it played. The last song we played was “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” and during the song, the sun shined through the stained glass windows and made a rainbow on the floor right in the front of the church. It was a miracle from above, I couldn’t make this up, everyone saw it themselves.

 It seems like I could say so much more about my son’s life. I know it was short, but it just doesn’t seem right that I can write it all in one blog post. But here I am, trying to share with everyone my awesome, perfect and beautiful son’s life. I never want anyone to ever forget him.

I love you Nolan, always will.


Saffy said...

Oh sweetie, your love for Nolan is oh so strong. He couldn't have picked better parents. The tears are flowing thinking of you guys - you have such wonderful clear photos of him - something to treasure. I am so sorry that he's not here in your arms now. PE is a monster. Nolan really was such a fighter - and such a gorgeous little boy who'll be loved forever.

Tara said...

I love the pictures of you looking into his incubator at him, so full of joy! and of you taking care of him. My son was a preemie that died after 2 1/2 days (similar ending to yours), and i have pictures just like these...ones where you can see the pride and love for this tiny miracle. Thanks for sharing these. Tara

Jaime said...

Nolan... a perfect name for your perfect little boy. xo

Andrea said...


I share that dreaded date of May 6th with you, as our baby lay sleeping at a routine u/s.

Nolan continues to live on, as you share his story. Your story, Nolan's story, is one of infinite love and the eternal bond that exists between Mother and child. I'm sorry for your pain...

Just as Nolan was a fighter, so is his Mommy :) It takes real courage to do all the things you did to survive, real courage.

I'm so thankful that GOD gave you Nolan and that God gave you a freind in Val, as she is an incredible friend. A real keeper.

As for our babies, I know they are healthy, happy and whole...and will forever blow us kisses from heaven.


Marie W said...

Thank you for sharing your heart with us. Nolan, though his time on earth was short, he touched many lives and his memory continues to do so.

Stephanie Rachelle said...

Thank you for sharing your heart and son. The tears are flowing. You have an amazing strength. I know God will reward you again someday. Hold on to His promises.

Lisette said...

I can't stop crying right now. I remember reading these post before but they still make me cry. Nolan will never be forgotten. He is perfect in every way. Your love for him is just amazing, you are a wonderful mom. Sending you big ((hugs)).

Maggie said...

Thank you for sharing. You are doing a beautiful job keeping Nolan's memory alive and I am so very happy you were able to spend those few days with him here. He will never be forgotten. What a little fighter! :) XO

jludwig said...

This made me cry. Nolan is an amazing, perfect, wonderful little boy. You and Chris ARE amazing, perfect, wonderful parents. Nolan will never be forgotten. He's even remembered by people who don't even know him.

The Blue Sparrow said...

Ashley, thank you for sharing Nolan with us so candidly. I am so happy that you got to spend time with him before he grew his wings. I love the meaning of Nolan too. *HUGS*

Mrs.F said...

He was such a little fighter. Thanks for sharing your story. It takes a strong woman to keep going after losing a child.

Katie said...

I promise you that Nolan's story is one I'll never forget. I've followed your journey from the beginning and it still brings me to tears every time I re-read the posts about Nolan. You and Chris are wonderful parents and you're doing a fantastic job of keeping Nolan's memory alive. *Hugs*

belle said...

what an amazing mom you are. what an amazing son he is.... your heart is so beautiful, your words so tender.

Diana @ Hormonal Imbalances said...

Everytime I read your story I cry. Nolan is so beautiful, what a tough little boy. I think about you guys all the time. said...

i never really read all this...and i still cant make it through some parts...your little Nolan was a precious lil guy. i hate that his happened to you. i wish there was a way to go back and make the outcome different for you. You guys are so strong.. luv u cuzo.

Anonymous said...

oh Ashley *hugs* Nolan's story is beautiful. Your love for him is beautiful. I love how you tell his story in pictures to give a visual aspect. We, in this community, know how real he was without the pictures, but you really give us a beautiful story.

I am so sorry that Nolan is not here today.

Elena said...

Nolan will never be forgotten. Thank you for sharing his life and your journey with us.


Franchesca Cox said...

I am in tears reading your son's story. Thank you for sharing Nolan with the world. He was such a fighter and so adorable! I am so so sorry for your loss.

Dagmar said...

in tears reading your story. Gosh, he was so tiny... I am so blessed to have a strapping, healthy little boy...

Congrats on your pregnancy!!!

All the best,

Nicole said...

Hi Ashley,
My name is Nicole, and you don't know me. I found your blog through Hope, Love and a Rainbow. I just wanted to thank you for sharing the story of Nolan's life.
I was very touched by your love for your sweet boy. I lost my daughter, our first child, Caroline on October 20, 2010. She was stillborn at 39 weeks and 2 days. I can certainly identify with your desire to have everyone remember him always, as you will. Having read your story, I can tell you that I will always remember your Nolan.
Congratulations on Nolan's little brother...he's beautiful!

Mama Bird said...

Tears are streaming down my cheeks and my heart is absolutely broken for you and your family. What an incredibly brave decision to share this intimate time through your blog. Nolan will not be forgotten, thanks to you, he is being introduced to people like me every day. Thank you for sharing this with me. I wish you and your family all of the love, strength, forgivenss, positive energy, and hope that life has to offer.

Renel said...

Hello, I am just reading your story, Nolan's Story. Just crying and crying. I am so sorry he is not here with you. I will be reading.

Anonymous said...

I don't know how I got to your blog, but somewhere the blog name jumped out at me because my nephew's name is Nolan. And then as I was reading your story, his name really jumped out at me because my nephew's middle name is also Michael.

I hope you have found healing through time and blogging. What a wonderful legacy for your little boy who was gone too soon.